Friday, October 30, 2009

Return Of The Osprey

The Osprey IV returning to Port Jefferson Harbor, August 2009 Osprey IV Soundbounder: Party Boat Fishing

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Orchard Beach Lagoon

Directly across the parking lot from Orchard Beach is a protected body of water known as The Lagoon. While not a true lagoon, these waters became nearly landlocked with the creation of Orchard Beach in the 1930's. Once known as LeRoy's Bay, the lagoon served as the site for the 1964 Olympic Rowing Trials.
Along the southwestern shore is a neglected judging stand that resembles a relic from the 1964 Worlds Fair (Barbie Townhouse meets Soviet housing project). For years, I had thought this was one of those fake buildings that firemen use for training. A chain-link fence along with some rare common sense stopped me from entering.
The lagoon itself is attractive, and it is very easy to forget that you are in the Bronx. The surrounding land is all part of the massive Pelham Bay Park, maintained by the City of New York. It is still common to see rowing teams from Fordham, Sarah Lawrence, and Iona gliding across the water, with the only audience now being some egrets and herons.
Andrew Cusack: Rowing In Pelham Bay Park (photos from tower)
Yale Bulldogs: Connell Cup

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hodge Family Wildlife Preserve

Approximately three miles north of the Block Island ferry dock sits the Hodge Family Wildlife Preserve also known as Hodge Farm. This is 25 acres of mostly-meadow, that slopes to the west, providing spectacular views of Block Island Sound. Created in 2002, the preserve is the result of a 20 year effort by the Nature Conservancy, Block Island Land Trust, Block Island Conservancy, the town of New Shoreham (Block Island), and individuals.
Over 40% of Block Island is publicly accessible, protected land. Opposition to a proposed 1971 housing development in Rodman's Hollow is often credited as the beginning of the preservation movement on the island. The partnership and commitment between conservation groups and individuals has led the Nature Conservancy to list Block Island as one of the Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere.
On a beautiful, late summer day this September, I spent a good portion of the morning walking out to North Light, and then following a portion of the Clay Head Trail. Reaching the Hodge Preserve, I could have continued on to West Beach, but I instead chose to stay right here. The meadow of goldenrod, with it's views of ponds and ocean in the distance was all too apealing.
Providence Journal: Saving Block Island
Nature Conservancy: Hodge Family Wildlife Preserve

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Baymen

Baymen is a regional term that refers to the small, independent, fishermen who make their living on the bays of Long Island. Usually associated with the shellfishermen of Great South Bay on the south shore of Long Island, they are also a common sight on the larger bays of Long Island Sound; Oyster and Huntington Bay in particular. Using only manual tools, these two shellfisherman worked the West Harbor section of Oyster Bay last week. This photo was taken while looking south from Centre Island Village Beach. Back To Baysics Loving Long Island: Boating With The Baymen NY Times: Proud Baymen Scraping Bottom Keeping The Oyster In Oyster Bay Map

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Das Boot

Perhaps it is a coincidence, but I rarely see submarines in the summer months. During September and October however, I see them quite frequently. They move along at a good speed and have a habit of sneaking up on you. Despite being surfaced, they seem to blend in with the horizon, until you eventually realize that a portion of the horizon is moving towards you.

My first encounter with a submarine occured about 25 years ago between Montauk and Block Island. It was also the scariest. With no other boats around and a relatively calm sea, a submarine surfaced on our starboard side. I don't recall how close it actually was, but it's sheer size made it appear to be right alongside us. I still remember the 5 seconds or so, where I did not know exactly what was happening. It was as if the ocean just opened up.

I have yet to visit the USS Nautilus Museum in Groton, but it is on my rainy day list. According to its website, it has the largest collection of submarine artifacts in the country. Visitors can also tour the USS Nautilus, which was the first nuclear powered submarine. Admission is free.

Friday, October 16, 2009

TV Kings Pointer

The Kings Pointer is the flagship training vessel for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. Built in Tacoma, she was launched in 1983 and served as a surveillance ship for the U.S. Navy. She was converted to a training vessel when acquired by the academy in 1992. She is 224 feet long with a beam of 43 feet.
The forecast does not look very promising, but two smaller ships from the USMMA will be on display this weekend at the annual oyster festival in Oyster Bay. The Liberator and the Growler will be offering tours at the Oyster Bay Waterfront Center.
Wikipedia: Kings Pointer

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oyster Bay By William Jonas

I cannot recall when I first saw this painting, but I do know that I have always liked it. The slight hint of fall foliage; the sun low in the sky; I look at this and think a warm afternoon in early October. I read somewhere that the boat in this painting is the Clearwater. Oyster Bay holds it's annual Oyster Festival this time of year, so it could very well be her.

Born in Sea Cliff in 1948, William Jonas has lived in Oyster Bay for over 50 years. His portfolio includes many paintings of ships and boats along this part of the North Shore.

Oyster Bay Frame Shop: William Jonas
Oyster Festival: 2009 List Of Ships

image credit: N.... Authors

Monday, October 12, 2009

Barn Island

Situated between Stonington and Watch Hill is the 1,013 acre Barn Island Wildlife Management Area. This is an off-the-beaten-path location that many of the regional brochures do not even mention. Only a small sign with an arrow on Route 1 marks the way to the entrance. The Connecticut Coastal Access Guide however, refers to this as the state's "premier coastal wildlife management area".

I visited Barn Island last week with the hopes of seeing some fall foliage, but that was not to be. With water temperatures in the upper 60's, and evening air temperatures in the lower 50's and upper 40's, it is still too early to see much change in color along the Sound. The lack of autumn reds though, did little to damper my visit. This is a beautiful spot!
Just north of the boat launch on Palmer Neck Road, I entered an eastward trail leading to an overlook that included numerous interpretive signs. From there, the trail worked it's way down a slope to a causeway that crossed a large tidal marsh. There may have not been much fall foliage, but I could smell October in the air. The decaying cordgrass and other vegetation was all too apparant to my senses. The landscape was mostly green,...but not for long.
Audubon CT: Barn Island
MysticSeaCaptain: Kayak Barn Island

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Schooner Adventurer In Wilson Cove

I know very little about this schooner. Not to be confused with the Adventure, she was built in Mystic in 1925, and is 65 feet long overall, with a 52 foot deck. While anchored off of Sheffield Island this August, I spotted her moored across Norwalk Harbor in Wilson Cove.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Defying The Calendar

Top To Bottom: Saybrook Point, Rocky Neck State Park, Mamaroneck, October 2009
I sure hope the fish don't bother those guys in the top photo.

West Wharf In Madison

The shoreline towns between New Haven and Old Lyme provide some of the most restrictive coastal access on Long Island Sound. There are a few exceptions, but most of the beaches and parks (and the roads that lead to them) are private communities. Apparently, it is illegal to walk down a public street, even in October. The corrupt and scandal-plagued Madison Police Department may turn a blind eye to prostitution and drug rings, but they still view an outsider taking pictures on the beach as a serious offense. To make a long story short, two squad cars arrived, and I got the hell out of town.
West Wharf in Madison is a small, resident only park that consists of a fishing pier, and some large rock outcroppings that provide excellent views of Falkner Island. When I visited this week, the demolition of the nearby Madison Beach Hotel attracted a small crowd to watch the destruction. With only residents of Madison in the crowd, the park was secure, and nothing could ever go wrong.
CT Coastal Access Guide: West Wharf

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hamburg Cove

Cruising Guide To The New England Coast: Hamburg Cove

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sawyer's Lobsters

In a residential neighborhood, along Birch Plain Creek, on Jupiter Point in Groton, sits Sawyer's Lobster Dock. This is not a public dock, however lobsters can be purchased from the tanks housed inside the building here. It has been a terrible decade for the lobster industry on Long Island Sound, but the past two years have shown some signs of improvement.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shore Park In Pelham Manor

Squeezed between the New York City line and New Rochelle, Pelham probably has the shortest shoreline of any town on Long Island Sound. Less than a mile long, much of it is consumed by the grounds of the New York Athletic Club. Adjacent to the club is Shore Park, which is a simple, yet attractive piece of coastal access property. Maintained by the village of Pelham Manor, this is a resident-only park during the summer months. There are picnic tables, restrooms, and a playground, but most of the park is simply a large lawn that extends to the water.
Shore Park provides possibly the most attractive views of the Bronx one could hope to see. That's right I said the Bronx! Not exactly known for it's charm and natural beauty, the Bronx has a terrible reputation, with some of it deservedly so. The 2,700 acre Pelham Bay Park however, provides a backdrop here that is nothing but trees, herons, rocks and water. This is a view of the borough many never see, or even know exists.
The nearby neighborhoods in Pelham Manor also provide an enjoyable diversion. Lined with tudors, colonials, and stone churches, the sidewalks here make for an interesting and pleasant walk.
Soundbounder: Pelham Bay Park

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I see this ship often. The 81 foot (LOA) Argia makes her way down the Mystic River three times a day, offering two-and-a-half-hour cruises. She is one of the busier boats around. Much of the cruise is consumed by motoring the river, but south of Morgan Point the sails are hoisted. Built in Virginia in 1986, she is a two masted, gaff topsail schooner.
Recently, on an evening sail to West Harbor, I spotted her with a festive crowd enjoying the sunset.

Faulkner's Island Light Brigade

The Faulkner's Island Light Brigade held an open house the first two weekends of September. The island and lighthouse, part of the Stewart McKinney Wildlife Refuge are off-limits the remainder of the year. The US Fish and Wildlife Service transported visitors aboard a small landing craft from Guilford to the island, while providing some background information on the refuge. Other visitors arrived by kayak and an assortment of small boats. I was impressed by the whole operation that took place.
The Brigade, through donations and volunteer efforts, works to preserve both the lighthouse and it's history. They also have worked to prevent further erosion on the island's east embankment. It is nice to see people involved in a local cause that they believe in.
New York Times: The U in Falkner
Wikipedia: Falkner Island
AudubonCT: Falkner Island
Note: While charts refer to the island as Falkner Island, it is known locally as Faulkner's Island.